‘Satellite SOS’ starts appearing on Google Pixel phones – here’s what it will do

Satellite connectivity for smartphones has proven valuable on Apple’s iPhone, but it’s a feature that’s struggling to get out the door on Android devices. This week, though, a new “Satellite SOS” feature has started appearing on Google Pixel phones, and we’ve got a sneak preview of what it will be able to do.

If you dive into Settings > Safety & emergency on a Pixel phone today, you’ll very likely see “Satellite SOS” appear between Emergency SOS and Car Crash Detection. Google, seemingly in an error, has rolled out the setting widely to virtually all Pixel device through a recent update to Adaptive Connectivity Services.

But, right now, the feature doesn’t do anything. Tapping “Satellite SOS” on a Google Pixel device doesn’t open any menus, but it will soon.

Through a rooted Pixel, we were able to access the menu Google is preparing for this feature. The Satellite SOS page explains:

With your Pixel, you can message with emergency services and share your location when you can’t connect to a mobile or Wi-Fi network.

The page explains that you can call or text emergency services, share your location using Google Maps, and answer questions about your emergency. There’s no word if you’ll be able contact anyone outside of emergency services, but Google also details that it will share your name and phone number from your Google account, as well as contact details for up to three emergency contacts.

Google reiterates what details are shared at the bottom of the page:

When you connect with emergency services by satellite, your name, email, phone number, location, device information (IMEI, language, model, battery level), and emergency information are share with emergency services and satellite service providers.

The page links out to a Google support page about what countries are supported by Satellite SOS, but the page unfortunately is not yet live. There’s also a link to a Garmin Search and Rescue Insurance plan. Notably, Google Messages previously showed signs of using Garmin services for satellite connectivity.

There are demos for satellite connectivity, but neither “Try a demo” or “Test real mode” are currently working.

It’s unclear when Google intends to push this functionality live, but the fact that the shortcut is appearing widely on Pixel phones today combined with how fleshed out this behind-the-scenes settings menu is suggests that it’s not too far off.